Do you ever find something that you've written in the past and wonder how you lost the passion for the topic you wrote about? Over the weekend, I sifted through drafts of blog posts that were half written but never finished. This one caught my attention and demanded to be finished. So here's a blog post I started back in January.
Now that Francis Chan is back in the States, I've been listening to a lot of his sermons. Several months ago, I saw a link on a blog to a sermon Chan gave in 2006, and it describes me to a T:
For whatever reason, I was not born with a sense of adventure. It takes a lot for me to try new things. This was a positive as a teenager because I was not bullied by peer pressure. But on the negative side, I've lived a pretty routine, safe life.
But lately, I keep reading books and hearing sermons on how life wasn't meant to be lived safely, all cocooned away.
Chan preached at Passion 2011 in Atlanta on Philippians 1:27: "Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel."
He talked about how he questioned whether he was living a life worthy of the Gospel and put the Bible on one side of an old-fashioned balance and used the other side to weigh his life. He ultimately concluded that he needed to go to Asia to see how courageous Christians were leading millions of people to Christ, even in the face of being tortured and beaten, because he wanted to know what it takes to have faith like that.
The stories he told upon his return focused on how those Christians in Asia expected persecution and clung to their faith despite whatever was thrown at them. I heard Chan tell some of these same stories at Passion 2011 here in Fort Worth, and they stirred up a sense that the balance is definitely off. When he told those Christians in Asia that we, here in America, aren't persecuted for our faith like they are, they asked why not; they pointed out that the Bible promises persecution for those who believe.
They pose an interesting question. Are we doing something wrong? Are we serving up Gospel-lite instead of the full force of the Gospel (if we are serving any at all)? Are we not living any differently from the world, and so we blend in enough to not be persecuted?
I'd have to say that I'm guilty. Guilty of thinking that a safe life is one that will be rewarded by God. That if I say enough of the "right" prayers, I can stay cocooned away from seeing the tragedies that happen every day. That if I give, I will be excused from going and serving.
But this isn't the Truth.
Instead, the Truth states, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." (James 1:27) And more Truth, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations." (Matthew 28:19)
This hit my radar in January and, like many things, fell off for months until I saw the draft. I know I have sat idly by for too long. I'm involved in some ministries for orphan, but I've never gone anywhere. Looks like I need to be praying about the where. Even if it's just across town to the parts that I usually don't travel to. That would be a start in taking baby steps away from the cocoon.